The day the auction opened, my husband Harold called to tell me he bid on some of the items. He grew up in the 1950s, when Roy, Dale and Trigger were so popular. "Roy was my favorite," Harold said enthusiastically. "I once got to pet Trigger when he and Roy visited New Orleans. It was the thrill of my life."
I was certain that Harold had just bid $150,000-Christies' estimated price-for Trigger. My first thought was, where the heck do you put a big stuffed horse, standing on its haunches? I guess I blurted out that thought, because Harold immediately assured me that he had only bid on the lunch bucket and some belts.
Turns out, he didn't win the bucket or anything else. Nearly all the items sold for way more than Christie's had estimated, including Trigger, whose final price was more than $266,000. But this auction got me thinking about what people value, and what they are willing to pay for it.
WHAT YOU ARE WORTH
Think about your services. First of all, they are services (not goods), so people have a hard time determining their value. If you were selling toasters, it would be pretty easy for clients to pick one up, look it over and get a sense of how that item would look in their home. But no matter how specific we are about what we can and will do for our clients, it's not easy for them to visualize the impact or outcome.
If you haven't read Harry Beckwith's Selling the Invisible, I highly recommend it. Beckwith says that service is intangible and therefore expectations about the outcome can vary widely.
What's more, since service is personal, a failure to meet expectations becomes personal as well. If you're unhappy with your new toaster, you might return it-but you don't call Black and Decker to ask them why they disappointed you. Yet, if your client is unhappy with your financial advice, performance or service, you're likely to get a call that is very personal: "Deena, how could you let me down like this?"
You might assume that the more specific and detailed you are about your advice and services, the less likely it would be for the client to wind up with unmet expectations. Yes and no: While it is likely that there may be less confusion if you specifically list what you will and will not do, you still have a big exposure to unexpressed expectations. Let's look at this a bit closer.
WHAT CLIENTS DON'T KNOW
If you have ever worked with clients, you know that they are not always clear about their goals and objectives when they walk in your door. Many times they have not formulated any future plans well enough for us to determine quantifiable and measurable goals. This is where the discovery session becomes important. Through artful questioning, clients began to visualize their own future and make some decisions about what they would like that to look like.
We negotiate what clients can and cannot afford to do and together we come up with an action plan. Ideally, through these sessions, we have learned something about client expectations. But if we don't ask directly, we might just be assuming that they have expressed all the goals they had in mind.
My friend, Dave Diesslin, in Ft. Worth, Texas, once told me that he always asks, "What would this relationship need to look like to be successful in your eyes?" I often say something similar: "If we look back a year from now, what would have had to happen so that you will feel this relationship has been valuable to you and your family?" However you word the question, it's just a good idea to encourage your new clients to express themselves as fully as possible.
Then it's your turn. Tell your new clients what you expect from the them. Honesty, trust, open communication, whatever you feel is necessary for this engagement to be a success in your eyes. When both you and your client feel that your relationship is win-win, you can accomplish more.